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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jan 15;90(2):435-8.

Phylogenic and ontogenic expression of hepatocellular bile acid transport.

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  • 1Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory, Salsbury Cove, ME 04672.


The phylogenic and ontogenic expression of mRNA for the Na+/bile acid cotransporter was determined by Northern analysis utilizing a full-length cDNA probe recently cloned from rat liver. mRNA was detected in several mammalian species, including rat, mouse, and man, but could not be found in livers from nonmammalian species, including chicken, turtle, frog, and small skate. When expression of the bile acid transporter in developing rat liver was studied, mRNA was detected between 18 and 21 days of gestation, at the time when Na(+)-dependent bile acid transport is first detected. Two hepatoma cell lines (HTC and HepG2), the latter of which is known to have lost the Na+/bile acid cotransport system, also did not express mRNA for this transporter. Finally, when mRNA from the lower vertebrate (the small skate) was injected into Xenopus oocytes, only a sodium-independent, chloride-dependent transport system for bile acids was expressed, confirming the integrity of the mRNA and consistent with prior functional studies of bile acid transport in this species. These findings establish that the Na+/bile acid cotransport mRNA is first transcribed in mammalian species, a process that is recapitulated late during mammalian fetal development in rat liver, and that this mRNA is lost in dedifferentiated hepatocytes. In contrast, the mRNA for a multispecific Na+/independent organic anion transport system is transcribed earlier in vertebrate evolution.

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